Yesterday was a bad day for you, wasn’t it? Heh.
I spoke to many people yesterday, more than one dismayed at the Supreme Court ruling. And I did what I always do when confronted with people like you, I tried to engage in a calm debate, and dispelled some of the more outlandish myths you’ve been sold. No, you’re not going to lose your house in a lawsuit if you play piano in church ever again. No, your priest won’t have to resign. No, a thunderbolt from heaven is not going to wipe out the United States.
And every time I end those conversations, here on my blog, on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else, generally I’m thanked for remaining reasonable, for respecting your religion or opinion, and for allowing you to say to my face that you think I’m a lesser human being than you are.
And every time, I feel a little bit dirtier. A little bit more disgusted with myself for indulging you.
Here’s the thing. I know getting angry won’t get me anywhere. I know the minute I call you a bigot you’ll shut down and pat yourself on the back for being right all along that people like me are unreasonable and irrational. I know that if I have a mini-meltdown people of your ilk will find it and use it as evidence against me. Your faith is too fragile for me to point out its fallacies, and you’ve been manipulated so expertly by the right wing that I could tell you the sky was blue and you’d find reason to doubt me.
You talk about “traditional marriage” or, even better, “Biblical marriage” and remain blind to what those words actually mean. You don’t want to be reminded that traditionally women were property of their husbands, bought and sold by their parents barely into adolescence. You don’t want to hear that Biblically a man is allowed any number of wives, that rapists must marry their victims, that conquering soldiers can create harems from the women of the men they’ve killed.
Love-marriages are brand new. Maybe something the peasants indulged in a hundred years ago, but not people of any social standing. Marriage has been romanced for centuries for precisely that reason. No, traditionally and Bibically, marriage wasn’t about love, but people always wanted it to be. Modern marriage — love matches — are the ideal to which marriage as an institution has striven for millennia.
Add the complexities of the modern world, and marriage is about so much more than two people falling in love. It’s about taxes and healthcare, child-rearing and hospital visitation. Until DOMA was struck down, AJ and I might have been able to legally marry in the UK, but we wouldn’t have been able to apply for a spousal visa for the US. Our legal marriage would have meant nothing to the federal government.
The state rewards marriage because it encourages social responsibility. A person out of work can be supported by their spouse rather than the government, they can share medical insurance and child care responsibilities. Married couples buy houses and cars and holidays and contribute to the economy in myriad different ways. Marriage is a socially conservative institution which any smart government will encourage as many of their citizens to enter as possible.
Marriage is also, of course, a powerful social statement. To stand before your friends and family, your neighbours and your god, if you believe, and promise yourself to one person for the rest of your life is a massive undertaking, rightly celebrated. It isn’t for everybody, but for those of a monogamous bent, marriage is generally the ultimate statement of love and commitment.
That it means so much in the hearts and minds of so many people is evidenced by the battle on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.
What I don’t understand, and never will, is why you think you’re “protecting” marriage by limiting it. And certainly not by refusing marriage to loving, committed couples who’ve been together for decades, when any straight couple can marry and divorce a dozen times or more without censure. The true enemy of marriage is not the gay couple next door, but the black widow, the gold-digger, or the man who trades his wife in for a younger model.
You were right about one thing yesterday, however. We’re not done. We will not be pacified. Marriage was a big battle, justly won, but the war is not over. There are still LGBT kids on the streets, or in Bible camps where so-called “counsellors” claim to be able to “cure” their sexuality. There are still trans* people being denied medical care, or even access to public bathrooms. There are still 29 states where you can be fired for being gay. Your freedom ends where it impinges upon the freedom of others, and we will never be free until we are all free. Until LGBT folk have the same rights and privileges that cis-straight folk do.
Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.